Let’s go for a Ride, a Gondola Ride
A Gondola ride! Oh! What does this mean. A usual boat ride. But I had done it before in Andamans and also from our very own Alappuzha waters. Riding on the backwaters of Alappuzha gives us a soothing feeling. But when you are in Venice and get a chance to ride on a Gondola, you are taken to view the medieval beauty where modernity has been instilled and is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Talk about Gondola and the very song that comes to your mind is the old Bollywood movie `The Great Gambler’ where Amitabh Bachhan and Zeenat are seen on a Gondola singing a romantic song. Why is this Gondola ride very popular? Being down on waters itself makes it very magical. The buildings hug closer to the ride and you can almost touch the age-old buildings. And the most important thing you realise is that the city stands on wooden logs and roads are made of water.
Your visit to Venice is not complete until you take a ride on a Gondola. It is definitely a must thing when you visit Venice. But to make it a memorable one, you must take the ride from the busy Grand Canal near the St Mark’s Square or San Marco. You cross across many small bridges and you can get the view of the Venice city in a completely different perspective. Every view of Venice looks like a painting.
The Gondolas or simply water boats are the symbol of history and tradition of the city. There are as many as 550 Gondolas in the city of Venice. Gondolas were used by Venetians during the earlier times and that was the main form of transportation. Getting on the flat bottomed boat made of 350 different pieces of wood itself makes you ecstatic. Only 6 people can be accommodated in a single Gondola. The man riding the Gondola is called a Gondolier and on his direction, the seating is arranged accordingly thereby maintaining the balance of the boat.
As there is a mad rush at the entry of the ride which is beaming with tourists, the majestic look of many Gondolas lined up impresses you. The moment it sails through on the narrow canals, we are taken aback by the buildings which are on both sides of the narrow waters. The architectural and artistic heritage is widely portrayed in each and every monument that you see. More visitors are seen during some seasons and they outnumber the inhabitants. A city where past is most obvious than the present.
The Gondolas looks majestic, usually black in colour, long, sleek and weighs maybe 600 kg. It has cushioned seats and are ornately decorated. The seats are comfortable. It is made narrow as it had to travel via narrow canals. Single oars are used to navigate. Each Gondola has a unique upholstery. Riding through the medieval beauties of the city, between high rise buildings, we feel that the sights of Venice in a different view.
The Gondoliers operate the Gondola and usually wears a black and white striped T shirt and black pants. Some are seen with red and white T shirts and they are called Classic Gondolans. They speak German or French but some speak English. A few Gondoliers when paid extra sing songs and do the narrative too.
What strikes any tourist is the clean waters. Though the gondolas travel on the waters where houses are situated, we could not see any trash being strewn on the waters. The bricks of the building has an ancient look and the plasterings have worn off too. Yet it has withstood the tests of time as the waters lack oxygen and micro organisms do not flourish in water. The decay of the wood on which the buildings are built do not happen. The minerals and salt in the water seep into the wood and make as hard as a rock.
We are taken to a different world as we try to admire the beauty of the stylish city on the calm waters. Venice is an expensive city in the Land of Pizzas and is best seen from a waterline. We could see restaurants on the sides of waters and is written `Ristorante’ on the board. The intricate details of the buildings, archways and balconies with beautiful flowers will definitely stun you as we cross Rialto bridge, which is one of the oldest bridge.
Gondoliers stand and row and advise us to maintain balance. We can see many gondolas riding past but what is remarkable is that no gondolas have a bumper to bumper hit. Such is the precision. A ride on an authentic gondola you can see how a city thrives with canals and not on streets. It’s a life on water.
The ride can be taken even during nights which might be too expensive. The visually stunning experience brings us closer to nature and just as streets and lanes crisscross each other, we can see the water bodies too take turns left and right. And sometimes Gondola traffic jams too at some points.
After a 25-minute ride it is difficult for one to come to terms with reality. An open ride in the sun will definitely discourage you but not this on a Gondola. I promised to myself that I’ll come back again just to enjoy the beauty of the place called Venice.